The arch outside the airport of Northern Samar


Maupay ng Adlaw! (meaning “Good Day” for the people of Samar, Philippines)

Going to a certain place for the first to me  is quite exciting. Whether the place is highly urbanized or a third class city, it doesn’t  matter. What’s important  is—I will be seeing a new  place , and I will be able  to share another Happy Trip stories  with my readers .

This is the story of my first trip to Catarman, Northern Samar.

Samar  is divided into three provinces: Samar province, Northern Samar, and Eastern Samar. These three provinces, along with the provinces on the nearby islands of Leyte and Biliran are part of the Eastern Visayas region. It is the Fourth largest island in the Philippines after Luzon , Mindanao and Negros.


One of the old structures in Catarman, the lower portion of which was converted into a small eatery

Going to Samar is quite challenging especially if you are coming from Negros. You will have the option to take the land trip to Cebu and from Cebu to Samar. The land trip from Negros Occidental to Samar would take you the whole day.  Oh well, if you are not in a hurry this can also be fun. But not for me this time. I have to be on the Island at the shortest possible time and I should not be  exhausting my physical power so I will be able to run the three- day training in “Personal Effectiveness” for the staff of the Negros Women for Tomorrow Foundation effectively.    to take the Bacolod to Manila route…stay overnight in Manila and fly to Samar, Catarman the following day.

We opted  to take the Bacolod to Manila route…stay overnight in Manila and fly to Samar, Catarman the following day.

I wasn’t expecting much from the Island … so I wasn’t surprised when I reached the Catarman.


Tricycle, the mode of transportation around the Catarman

Catarman   is the capital and largest town in terms of both area and population in the province of Northern Samar. The town lies  on the northern part of Samar Island and southeast of the Philippine capital, Manila. It is bounded to the east by Mondragon, to the west by Bobon, to the south by Lope de Vega, and to the north by the San Bernardino Strait. At present, there are 55 barangays, 22 of them in the poblacion.

Before the coming of the Spaniards, it is said that  Catarman was called Ibabao and was part of the extensive Maguindanao Kingdom, which extended from Mindanao to Bicol. Ibabao extended from the southernmost tip of Samar Island to the territories close to Bobon in the northernmost part of the island. The Spanish Conquistadores freely applied the name Ibabao to the island when it established its civil government. The similarities in the vocabularies and pronunciation of the dialects of these areas trace them to a common root as a people. The word Catarman is derived from the Turkish word attar (oil of the roses) and inman (holy men).

The town was one of the  pueblos established by the Spaniards in Samar Island and was one of the settlements in the northern parts of the island. The pueblo was named Calatman and was one of the pueblos in the Samar and Leyte islands, then collectively referred to as Islas de Pintados.

Catarman is home to the University of Eastern Philippines.

University of Eastern Philippines 4, CATARMAN

 Inside the University…not the usual scene in some schools

Going around Catarman proper are mostly done through pedicab or simply by walking. I enjoyed walking a lot after all Catarman proper is just very small. One funny experience I had was when I was invited by Ms. Tess Nunez , Training Manager of NWTF to dine  outside for my last stay in Catarman (the hotel we stayed has no restaurant). Of course, one pedicab cannot accommodate both of us . So we took one pedicab each. The native bar and restaurant ‘Tsiban” is one of the best places in Catarman, but from the hotel that we stayed, we still have to cross a bridge  which was quite steep for a pedicab. The driver of the pedicab I took  was tagging along with him her girlfriend. In the middle of the bridge, I can hear the struggling breath of the driver. I heard him telling  her girlfriend to get down and push the pedicab. How I wish someone was taking our pictures that time. The scene was ridiculously humorous.

University of Eastern Philippines 1, CATARMAN

University of Eastern Philippines Beach, Catarman, Northern Samar

For travelers, Catarman  offered quite a number of Pension Houses. The room rates range from 1,000 to 1,500/room. Catarman is basically simple and Laid back. There are a number of places which one can visit during night time. But I was surprised , food in the restaurants are  priced high a bit.

Of course in any trip, food is always a big factor, so the staff of Negros Women for Tomorrow’s Foundation offered to cook dinner for us. Fish like fresh tuna are quite reasonable at PhP 160/kilo in the wet market.

For the first timer like me , I was looking for a place to buy some souvenirs that I can bring home. There was none. So with my camera, I went around Catarman proper and took some pictures of the place.

University of Eastern Philippines 2.CATARMAN

University of Eastern Philippines Beach, Catarman, Northern Samar

More about Samar please try this:

University of Eastern Philippines

Biri Rock Formation

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jojo vito

I am an entrepreneur, management consultant and artist who loves to travel and share my experiences with others. If you want your place to be featured, for partnerships and sponsorships, etc. - email me at jovito_intraspec@yahoo.com My Blogs: www.thehappytrip.com ;  www.toponmylist.com ; www.intraspectraining.wordpress.com www.jojovito.com 

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